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IMAGES of this project are available online.

N.H. students, renowned sculptor create state’s official ornaments for National Christmas Tree

Sculptor Emile Birch and sixth- and seventh-grade students from the Indian River School in Canaan, N.H. have collaborated to create New Hampshire’s official ornaments for the 2012 National Christmas Tree that will be on display at President’s Park in Washington, D.C. throughout December.

Birch and the students worked with art teacher Cynthia Cummings on the project over the course of several weeks this fall, creating ornaments that represent a variety of New Hampshire winter activities and the beauty of the White Mountains. Each piece is a one-of-a-kind creation that incorporates three-dimensional sculptures accented with a white glitter of snow along with gold and silver details.

“I’ve worked in school settings throughout my career, collaborating with students on murals, sculptures and kinetic works,” said Birch, who will travel to Washington for the Tree Lighting. “This project was extra special for all of us, knowing that the ornaments will represent New Hampshire at such an important venue.”

The Lighting takes place on Thursday, December 6, 2012, at 5:00 p.m. It will be live streamed and then available online at

In 1856, New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce, fourteenth president of the United States, became the first president to place a Christmas tree in the White House.

The National Christmas Tree Lighting began on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse. Since then, each succeeding President has carried on the tradition of what now has become a month-long event presented by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service.

“We are very pleased that Emile Birch’s work with the students from Indian River School will represent New Hampshire in this year’s National Christmas Tree display,” said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “This time-honored tradition is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.”

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